David Robinson was a towering figure on the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs—and not just because he is 7 feet, 1 inch tall. As a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman, he won college basketball’s two most prestigious awards (the Wooden and Naismith awards) and made All-American. Nicknamed “The Admiral” because he’d gone to the Academy, he was drafted as a center for the Spurs. But former Lieutenant (junior grade) Robinson credits his days as a Midshipman—and the two years he spent on active duty as a Civil Engineering Corps (CEC) officer—for imbuing values that would play well on the court for the rest of his career. Here’s his story.
Okay, I played basketball at the Naval Academy, so it’d be easy to see how my experiences in uniform helped me when I turned pro and became a center for the San Antonio Spurs. But the truth is, that’s only a part of it. The time that I spent on active duty as a CEC officer has loomed large in my life all these years as well.